Blizzard added a new piece of monster art to their art gallery last night; the first genuinely new piece of concept art we’ve seen since… the female Monk, back in February? No wait, we got this piece of Monk artwork in May. Still, long time no art. (Bliz has added other Diablo arts to their concept gallery, but all had been released months before finding their way to that page. Also, turns out this image was first released back in 2007; see the update below.)
At any rate, this new pic shows off the Pine Devil Treant, which appears to be a sub-type of the Gnarled Walker. Clearly, Blizzard’s artists heard our pleas for more demonic trees! It’s green and glowing and spooky and stuff, and while I’m sure all of you are bursting with clever tree-themed captions, you might want to hold on to them for a future, officially-sanctioned opportunity.
Update: If you (are like me) and your first thought was that this tree looked like something from World of Warcraft… you were right! Thanks to a tip from Uldyssian in the comments, we know that this image was included in the Wrath of the Lich King collector’s edition art book back in 2007. Click it for a larger view.
So what’s going on here? Is this pic mislabeled in the Blizzard Art Gallery? Is it concept art that informed the design of both games?
There were Gnarled Walkers in the original Diablo III gameplay movie, from June 2008, so clearly “evil, sentient trees” were in their design plans from the very beginning. This one has a bit less of the gruesome and violent nature that we expect from Diablo concept art, but the monster itself isn’t all that different; if it had some corpses swinging from those knobby hands, and a bit less of the green/blue mood lighting, it wouldn’t seem out of place.
Or is this just another example of the ruinous, horrible, and pernicious influence of WoW on Diablo 3, and further cause to re-cancel your pre-order and embark on a forum jihad about “terrible graphics?”
Update #2: Bashiok told me some interesting stuff about personnel changes in the early days of Diablo 3’s art direction, but I can’t repeat the details. He did, however, say the pic had been mislabeled, as the @Diablo twitter feed now makes official.
Mis-tag. It’s been corrected.—Diablo
Pity—I would have enjoyed reading the outraged, “Not moar WoW!!!1!” threads about this one.